Mycrocell is part of the Singapore government’s 30 by 30 food safety initiative. The objective is to produce 30% of its nutritional needs locally by 2030.
According to the start-up, the mushroom mycelium is the equivalent of a mushroom in the juvenile stage. It is obtained by taking tissues from inside a fungus and growing them in a nutrient-rich substrate under the right conditions of temperature and humidity.
While developing an alternative food source is Mycrocell’s primary goal, the team also sees potential in the cosmetics industry, where some of its members have connections.
“While we are producing mushroom mycelium as an alternative protein for use in processed foods, at the same time, based on our previous experience in the cosmetics industry, we can also extract useful compounds from mycelium that can be used in skincare and cosmetics.”,explained Raymond Tham, founder and CEO of Mycrocell.
The cosmetics industry is no stranger to mushrooms as an ingredient. Reishi, tremella, and shiitake are among the many varieties that feature in cosmetic products on the market today.
As a cosmetic ingredient, mushroom mycelium taps into several market trends, such as the insatiable consumer demand for natural, safe and effective ingredients.
“The fact that you can eat the mycelium means you can safely put it on your skin as well. We control everything that goes into its production, so there is nothing harmful,” says Tam.
Moreover, the way it is produced responds to the need for sustainability and circularity. “It’s all part of the company’s policy to be environmentally sustainable, so nothing gets thrown away,” says Tam.
“Our strength is scaling. We are able to scale it up to several hundred kilograms in a very short time with our own designed bioreactors, which use minimal energy and are basically food safe – in other words, these cosmetics can be consumed.
The ingredient can be applied in various cosmetic products, and the company is also exploring its potential in the cosmeceutical space.
“Certainly, it can meet a wide range of needs in the consumer market, from everyday-use toners to a more premium essence. It can potentially also be used in cosmeceuticals,” says Tam.
“These extracts here contain the mycelium metabolites, which include polysaccharides, peptides, and polysaccharides, which the literature has shown to be good for functional anti-inflammatory purposes.”
In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, mycelium could potentially have other cosmetic benefits such as skin lightening. However, the company has yet to confirm any of them.
“The company is still young; we are in the process of doing all the functional tests. But the existing literature supports the concepts on which we base our product,” says Tam.
The next step for Mycrocell is to partner with other cosmetic companies, whether beauty brands or ingredient suppliers, to conduct more research to confirm the benefits of mushroom mycelium.